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Medical device maker gets fund boost
October 9, 2009

By David Saleh Rauf - Express-News

A San Antonio-based medical device company will receive $500,000 in venture capital funds to advance technology that prevents pulmonary embolisms by trapping blood clots before they reach the lung.

BiO2 Medical - which was co-founded by Dr. Luis Angel, director of Interventional Pulmonary and Lung Transplantation at the University of Texas Health Science Center - is planning to use the money to commercialize a device called the Angel vena cava filter-catheter. The device is designed to prevent the spread of a blood clot that typically forms in the leg of a critically ill patient and travels up to the lung, causing a potentially fatal pulmonary embolism - a condition that BiO2 Medical estimates causes 300,000 deaths annually.

The $500,000 will supplement a $1 million award the medical device maker received this summer from the state's Emerging Technology Fund to ready the product for commercialization.

The first round of clinical studies is expected to occur next year and will be used to gain entrance into the European market, said Dr. Paul Castella, president of BiO2 Medical and a managing director of the venture capital firm that supplied the $500,000.

"About a year later, we'll seek FDA approval here in the United States," he said.

The Targeted Technology Fund I LP, a San Antonio-based venture capital firm focused primarily on biomedical investments in the Alamo City and South Texas, provided the financial boost to BiO2 Medical. It marks the second investment the venture capital firm has made since launching this summer.

"The fund is focused on the development of medical devices, especially those that address significant and unmet needs," Castella said. "This is certainly the case with this device. It was a natural."

In July, the venture capital firm announced a nearly $800,000 investment in San Antonio-based medical device maker Vidacare Corp., a company whose portfolio already includes an award-winning device and 13 products approved by federal regulators. By contrast, BiO2 Medical still is in the prototype stage for its Angel vena cava filter-catheter and has no products on the market.

Pumping capital into an already established company like Vidacare and one that has the potential to emerge as an industry player in the future provides investors with opportunities for "staggered exits," said Alan Dean, a managing director of the fund.

"It's good to balance your portfolio," he said. "If you invest only in companies that are in the early stages, you have liquidity events that are pretty far away from each other."

Though the fund is primarily devoted to medical devices, Castella and Dean say its next investment could be in a San Antonio-based drug company called ViroXis, which is developing a plant-based topical drug to treat warts caused by human papillomavirus.


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